The Chamber has been vocal in urging the government to collaborate more in devising a smart city strategy for Hong Kong as a priority issue to create a sustainable economy and improve the quality of life
By Kenny Lau
AmCham has made it a policy priority to advocate and lobby the government as it draws up a blueprint for making Hong Kong a smart city. The Chamber’s position is for the government to integrate further the functional areas of its institutions with the expanded use of technology, with a focus on developing a high-quality workforce and education system, increasing efficiency and making better use of natural resources.
Smart city development is one of AmCham’s advocacy priorities because it believes sophisticated infrastructure, high-tech connectivity, cutting-edge sensor technology and big data analytics are what will drive a sustainable economy and improve the quality of life. In a nutshell, smart city development is an engine of growth that makes the economy greener.
AmCham’s efforts are timely because businesses stand ready to partner with the government to stimulate innovation, encourage market creation and broaden civic participation in an open environment. To remain competitive and move forward with a comprehensive plan for a smart Hong Kong, AmCham strongly suggests a bottom- up, collaborative approach to devising a smart city strategy.
“The private sector in Hong Kong is extremely excited about the huge potential benefits of a smart city strategy,” says AmCham Chairman Walter Dias. “While the ecosystem is gradually building, we hope the government will closely engage leading businesses, SMEs and other public stakeholders here and across the border in Shenzhen to drive innovation.” “These sectors should be a valuable partner in devising a smart blueprint for the city and providing inputs to the government on potential areas of growth, as well as solutions for challenges – as in areas of regulation and data security,” Dias adds.
The Chamber’s position
In a recent submission to the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer on the soon-to-be-released Smart City Blueprint, AmCham highlights imperatives that are crucial to an effective strategy. The Chamber has focused its submission to government in 12 policy areas.
- Adopt a collaborative mindset within the government and with other community stakeholders, including businesses, to facilitate cross-disciplinary action;
- Set up a high-level authority to coordinate and formulate integrated policies;
- Allow active participation by stakeholders in policymaking, from devising policies through to implementing them;
- Engage leading international businesses, ranging from technology enterprises to consultants, to gain practical knowledge and experience from projects abroad;
- Make strategy goal-oriented, with a set timeframe and measurable policy targets;
- Promote a green economy driven by consumer demand, and create definitions of smart living;
- Apply international best practices in a regulatory framework for sustainable consumption, including labelling and certification;
- Make the Internet of Things a key economic driver for government and businesses;
- Promote a sharing economy to increase efficiency and improve standards of living;
- Make cybersecurity a priority in addressing data security and protection in the smart era;
- Create a favorable regulatory environment for innovative products and services; and
- Promote citizen participation and nurture “smart citizens” as a starting point for change.
Collaboration is essential
Because smart city development is multifaceted and cross-sectoral, a collaborative approach led by the government and joined by community stakeholders, including private businesses, is fundamental. One way is to set up a high-level authority to coordinate inputs and formulate integrated policies, thereby allowing comprehensive planning and implementation of various initiatives.
While smart city development varies from one city to another, it is typical for government agencies, universities, private businesses and citizens to come together in the planning stage to analyze the issues in depth before goals are set in stone. In Hong Kong, the government, universities, business community and citizens all have important roles to play.
A multi-agency government task force can induce interdisciplinary thinking and cross-sector collaboration by leveraging the research capability of universities, the expertise of private companies, the passion of start-up incubators and the knowledge of NGOs. Global companies with cross-disciplinary experience, ranging from technology to consulting, are an important source of know-how.
In developing a smart city, citizen participation through online platforms, social media and public workshops often gives understanding of the issues and how best a city should function. Amsterdam is an example of a city where the public contributes ideas for development, where the spirit and creativity of people is unleashed, and where new business opportunities are created.
Hong Kong is wired
The Internet of Things has revolutionized the way people go about their day-to-day business and every decision they make is influenced by the flow of instantly available data. With world-class telecommunications, the city is well positioned to connect service providers and users and reap the benefits of technology.
In supplying power, for example, a smarter grid would make electricity generation more reliable by increasing the resilience, efficiency and safety of the energy supply chain. A smarter grid would give consumers more options, economically and sustainably.
In public transportation, optimizing capacity would benefit commuters by reducing waiting times, roadside pollution and traffic congestion. The use of real-time data to match supply with demand and minimize redundancy would improve quality of life.
On the healthcare front, apps for mobile devices already allow patients to share their data with healthcare professionals. The adoption of technology in healthcare will make the system more effective. It is the way forward in caring for the health of the elderly as the population of Hong Kong ages.